Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Crown of Swords~Robert Jordan | Review

Title: A Crown of Swords (Wheel of Time #7)
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 880 Pages Paperback
Release: May 1996
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I don't want to get into too many of the little details about this book, since it's the seventh in a series. This review may contain slight spoilers for the previous novels, but I will try to keep them to a minimum. 

This was a fun installment in the series, but overall was lacking in plot development. There were several important events, but I found the overall novel to be somewhat stagnant. The characters mostly seemed to be going in circles, trying to answer the same questions that they were working on in all 900+ pages of the last novel. 

There was some character development, particularly in Mat who I have never much liked before. I found him more tolerable this time around and found myself agreeing with him on several occasions. There still aren't any answers about the stuff that has happened with him either though.  Perrin was not a large part of this novel, though with how Faile was in the last one I'm not sure I would have enjoyed his portions that much if he had been. 

One thing that I was happy to see were the developments in the Nynaeve/Lan pairing. For some reason I really like these two and I was happy that we finally got somewhere with them. I was also glad that Rand finally admitted his feelings for all the women in his life. Even if it was only to one of them. I was getting somewhat tired of him thinking about how he didn't know how he felt. 

There were some developments as far as the plot with Rand and the Aes Sedai as well as the Aiel, but I would have liked a bit more. Jordan was a master with endings though; this one had me wanting to leap right into book eight. I just hope that more questions will be answered. 

An enjoyable read if you've enjoyed the rest of the series to this point, but nothing particularly special about this installment. Looking forward to getting into the next installment to see what happens next.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Everything, Everything~Nicola Yoon | Review

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 306 Pages (Hardback)
Release: September 2015
My Rating: 3/5 Stars

I received a copy of this novel through First In Line during Yallfest 2015.

This book left me feeling very conflicted. While I enjoyed reading it and found that the message was overall a great one, it just never had a wow factor for me. The characters were likable, but not amazing. The plot was believable and had some surprises, but still never just grabbed me. The romance was cute and had several adorable moments, but I just wasn't invested. And I can't really say why. 

The premise behind this book was really interesting. A girl who has been sick her entire life meets someone who makes her wish for more, even when she knows she can't have it. She begins taking risks and questioning the things she's always taken as fact. And some of that stuff needs to be questioned. 

I found the relationship between Olly and Maddy adorable at times. It was really cute to see them get to know each other through email and IM. It was nice to see how supportive they were of each other and how they wanted to help each other. 

I found Madeline's mother a very hard character to either like or dislike. She was not really a major part of the book and that was obviously done intentionally. I understand why she did some of the things that she did, in a way, but it's still no excuse for a lot of her actions. It would have been interesting to see her character explored some more. 

The ending was very satisfying and had a nice openness that allow you to imagine many possibilities for these characters. I would have liked certain things to be more fleshed out, but overall it was a fun read.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tiffany McDaniel Author of The Summer that Melted Everything | Interview

An Ohio native, Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is inspired by the rolling hills and buckeye woods of the land she knows.  She is also a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and artist.  The Summer that Melted Everything is her debut novel.

You can find out more about Tiffany McDaniel as well as links to purchase her novel on her website: Tiffany McDaniel

Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.

Sal seems to appear out of nowhere - a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he's welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he's a runaway from a nearby farm town.

When word spreads that the devil has come to Breathed, not everyone is happy to welcome this self-proclaimed fallen angel. Murmurs follow him and tensions rise, along with the temperatures as an unbearable heat wave rolls into town right along with him. As strange accidents start to occur, riled by the feverish heat, some in the town start to believe that Sal is exactly who he claims to be. While the Bliss family wrestles with their own personal demons, a fanatic drives the town to the brink of a catastrophe that will change this sleepy Ohio backwater forever.

Could you tell us a little bit about The Summer that Melted Everything? 
The story is narrated by eighty-four-old year old Fielding Bliss looking back on his life and the summer of 1984 when he was thirteen-years-old and his father had put an invitation in the newspaper inviting the devil to their town of Breathed, Ohio.  The one come to answer the invitation is a boy in overalls and with bruises.  The summer unfolds in the flames of a hell-hot heat wave.  It’s a story about the things that melt in our lives and how that very melting can haunt us without an end to the ghosts. 

Who/what first inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid.  When I first could hold a crayon and scribble what was in my head.  Story has always been what I’ve loved to be around.  Reading it, creating it, living with it.  So nothing really inspired me to write.  It was much more an innate desire to do so.  I’m lost without writing in my life.  It’s my compass.  My lighthouse, safely guiding my ship to shore. 

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Writing is the easy part.  I have eight completed novels, and am currently working on my ninth.  The hard part is getting published.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen-years-old and didn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine.  So it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published.  I really did not believe I would be published.  I know I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am, about to see my book on the shelf for the first time when there are so many writers out there still struggling on their own journey to publication.  To them I say never give up.  It will happen for you.  Believe it.

What are your thoughts on film adaptations of books? Would you ever like to see your work as a film? 
I love film.  And I write screenplays, so I’d definitely love to see my novels turned into screen adaptations.  It adds that extra layer to the characters and their stories.  Brings them to life in a way that adds additional essence to them.  But I will say I always read the book before I watch the adaptation.  I don’t like the visuals of the film competing with the imagery in my head as I’m reading a book.  And sometimes film adaptations don’t get it right.  Sometimes they do.  To Kill a Mockingbird film with Gregory Peck comes to mind.  It was a beautiful book and a beautiful film.  That’s what I hope for.  That readers can read one of my novels, go see the film, and find beauty in both those art forms.  
What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors? 
Again, to never give up.  The road to publication is difficult.  Especially when you write the genre I write, which is literary fiction.  Publishers are not jumping at the chance to take a risk on literary fiction because it’s harder to sell than genre or commercial fiction and it generally doesn’t have that big financial return.  Getting a book published is definitely the hardest thing I’ve done.  So to all writers still struggling to get that foot in the door, I say you owe it to yourself to not turn your back on your dreams.  Never lose that hope that you too will be published one day.

Do you have a favorite book? If so, what is it?  
I love Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.   Bradbury’s verse is beautiful, first of all.  And the story he’s telling has that balance between joy and a melancholy so subtle, you’re being rippled as you read, with the ultimate wave coming at the end of the novel.  I’ve read it several times.  I want to be buried with the book so I have it by my side in the afterlife, or you know, in case I get lonely in the coffin.  

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise (music, other people around, etc)? 
I prefer to write alone.  Mostly in silence.  Just go into the cave and listen to the bats squeak.  I sometimes listen to music.  But nothing with lyrics unless they’re lyrics that would make me want to paint my walls black.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I love gardening.  I hope to have my own greenhouse one day containing its own special jungle I can stalk like a jaguar.  I find baking relaxing.  The mixing of flour and sugar and butter.  The simplicity of creating something for others to enjoy.  I love reading.  Taking that story inside me and allowing myself to slip into the reader role.  And watching movies.  Sometimes there’s nothing better than to lean back and just watch something unfold in its own good time.

Without spoiling the novel, is there any one thing you hope readers take away from your story?
That we are only as godly as the love we spread.  We are only as devilish as the hate we spew.  And that the things which melt are oftentimes done so by our own infinite flame.

What is one question you’ve always wanted to be ask (writing/book related or not)? Answer that question.
What would I do if I ever met Ray Bradbury (his ghost at this point)?  I’d share a glass of Dandelion Wine and share a ride on a rocket ship to Mars where hopefully Shirley Jackson is waiting for us both in a house on a hill. 

Here is the book trailer, for anyone interested.